Social Media continues to be the pretty girl at the ball that everyone wants to go dancin' with.  But even IF your business can benefit from using social media, make sure you ease into these waters slowly. 

More than ever, I am hearing from, and stories of, companies that are asking to 'get us started with social media'.  The obvious response is 'well how do you know that you should be using social media?'  Which usually leads to the inevitable 'because everyone is talking about it!' response.

Figure out what everyone is talking about for yourself.  Start NOW familiarizing yourself with these tools.  Start reading blogs, here's a selection of some of the top social media and blogging blogs.  Read Jennifer's amazing tutorial on getting started with Twitter.  Poke (get it?) around on Facebook and see how the members use the site.  Use Google Blog Search to get an idea what bloggers are currently saying about your business, and industry.

The point is, don't think that social media is something that you need to immediately rush into.  As a social media consultant, I do indeed believe you should begin to familiarize yourself with these sites and tools, and begin to understand how customers are using them.  But do so at your own pace.  If you can only invest 15 mins a day in reading blogs or scanning Twitter, go with that.  As you start using Twitter, you might decide that your customers aren't there, and that you don't get enough value from using the service to stay.  Or you may discover that Facebook has dozens of active groups devoted to your industry, where customers are already discussing you and your competitors. 

The key is to start learning.  The wonderful thing about social media is that it gives everyone, even businesses, the chance to find and share their voice.  I would much rather have you start using social media because you love the space and understand its potential, rather than thinking you 'have' to.   

December 19, 2008





Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.

His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post, MSNBC.com, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.

You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.

Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.






Comments(8)

Great advice, Mack. Social media is not just another marketing tactic that you try out to see if you like it. It takes a commitment to do it well. And, as you point out, it should fit the personality of your business.

Totally agree with you here. Just to go a little farther I usually tell people that they need to make sure that social media is the last step after everything on their site and your other marketing efforts are done right. I mean think about it you use social media to drive people to your site then they get there and it sucks or they can't find what they need then you still FAIL!

Hi,

I completely agree with this. It so happens that I have written a similar article on my blog called "Don’t rush head first into social media". If anybody is interested you can find it on my blog along with a video post.

Thank you

Hey Mack,
Good article and sage advice as we all learn and experiment with what works and what doesn't in this thing we reference as Social Media for small business.

The amount of time required is substantial, or at least it has been for us and to your point, I am not sure that can just be handed off to someone. I am not suggesting that an owner or marketing director needs to do it all themselves, but unlike traditional marketing, you cannot buy a block of Social Media Marketing, even though some are attempting to sell it as such.

Social media can be a great thing! I like to look at it like fishing... Fishing for customers. You are going to get more if you cast more lures, but if your bait sucks (aka your website content) they will be the kind you need to throw back! Yes, start off slow but do what works.

Makes sense to know what to do before you start doing it as you might make mistakes at the beginning that you may regret further down the road.

Hi
I started using social media for commercial purposes but it has become a part of my life now so and i get alot of advice and fun from it.

charlene

I went to a lot forums and I don't like to mention the name of the forums that I got good and excellent advice on how to promote my website and
most ot the talk is about social network sites. What i didn't realize is I really don't know hoe to use it to my advantage and use the tools that are available to me.

What I did was mostly for linking purposes and I forget the connection I should be making
to all the members and create my own network of people that may be interested in my
product. Using the shout and all the other tools on an online social utility or what is called social network site can make wonders for you.
Thanks, Lorenz Of Batanes

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